There are few greater pleasures than wandering around Bristol harbour, then stopping off into a waterside cafe or bar for a snack and people-watching.
Among the loveliest locations to do this is Spoke & Stringer, a cosy yet modern bar lounge situated in the small canal boat marina opposite the SS Great Britain. In summer you’ll find the tables and wall out front chocca with sun-seekers and cider-drinkers, in winter it’s a welcoming, intimate refuge with low lighting.
We popped down to Spoke & Stringer one evening to sample their tasting menu – I’d been in a few times for lunch or snacks and a quick after work drink, but it felt about time that I tried more of their menu – especially those inviting pintxos on the bar.
The mood when we arrived was very chilled, most tables were filled but we still managed to nab one in a quiet corner, and later in the evening there was some live steel slide guitar being played which was nice to listen to in the background.
Priced at £25 per head, we were really impressed with the amount of food (plus a complimentary glass of wine) brought to us over the next couple of hours.
First up was a round of those pintxos – the highlights being the mushroom scotch egg and the small block of parmesan polenta with a tangy chutney and quails egg. There was also a daikon salmon sushi roll which I didn’t think complimeted the rest of the board, but was still tasty.
Next up were our first few tapas dishes – including some familiar favourite such as patatas bravas, grilled padron peppers and chorizo (cooked in a sticky orange sauce which reminded me of the sweet & sour sauce you’d get in a Chinese restaurant – quite sickly but just about balanced out when eaten with the other dishes).
Next came some more complex plates – a large octopus tentacle grilled and served with a tasty relish and light dressing (very tasty) and – my favourite of the evening – slow cooked lamb with pomegranate, hummus and a small, fresh puffy bread to mop up the juices. Unnnf.
Despite being pretty weighed down with food at this point, we decided to persevere with dessert – one was a sort of kataifi baklava pastry dish with honey cream, fairly sweet and rich but nicely balanced. Our other dessert was a very generously portioned chocolate mousse, sprinkled with crushed pistachios, which we struggled to finish between two of us.
Keep an eye to their Twitter feed for news about music and other events, but in any case make sure you swing by and check out the food for yourself, whether it’s for a leisurely brunch, a special dinner or a swift pintxo & wine after work to enjoy that view of the harbour – you won’t be disapppointed.
Spoke & Stringer
The Boat House Unit 1
Lime Kiln Road
T: 0117 925 9371